The fall months are Medicare’s biggest season. Annual Enrollment Period, a period when you can make substantial changes to your Medicare coverage, starts October 15 and lasts through December 7th. This period is the only time per year that beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare Part D plans or their Medicare Advantage plans.
Annual Enrollment Period
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), also known as Medicare Open Enrollment or Annual Election Period, is essential for individuals who have a Medicare Advantage plan. AEP is the only period when you can drop your Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare Parts A & B. After you drop your Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare, you will become eligible to add a Medicare supplement plan. Adding a Medicare supplement is essential if you want full coverage for your medical needs.
In addition to the changes you can make to your Medicare Advantage plans, this is the only period in which you can make changes to your Medicare Part D plans. Part D is your prescription drug coverage. It is necessary to have a Part D plan if you currently take or might need to take prescription drugs in the future. Without this coverage, you might have to pay significant out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.
Dropping Medicare Advantage
Once you enter AEP (Oct. 15-Dec. 7), you can drop your Medicare Advantage plan. If you wait beyond this period, you will have to wait a full year to make changes to your coverage. To drop your plan, contact the insurance plan directly. They can disenroll you from your current Medicare Advantage plan. There could potentially be more than one way to disenroll from your plan, depending on the plan that you have, but the safest and surest way to disenroll is to call. Instead of calling your plan, you can also call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE. They will be able to disenroll you from your plan as well.
Instead of dropping your Medicare Advantage plan, you can also switch or join a plan at this time. While this is possible, we’ve found that the most savings come from beneficiaries having Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan instead. Every individual has a different situation, so you should speak to an agent to determine which direction bets fits your needs.
Getting Medicare Part D
During AEP, you can also join, switch, or drop Medicare Part D plans. The costs for Part D plans greatly vary from plan to plan. If you are relatively healthy and do not take prescription medications, you might want a plan with a lower amount of coverage. This coverage usually results in a plan with a lower premium. However, if you take any prescription medications, you might want a higher amount of coverage. These plans typically result in higher premiums. The best way to decide which plan is right for you is to shop around online and compare the different plans.
As mentioned before, we highly suggest that each senior enrolls in a Part D plan. While you may currently be healthy and might not take prescription medications, you want to prepare for the event of an unplanned medical event or expense. They can occur at any time. Without this coverage, you would have to pay significant out-of-pocket expenses to get these necessary prescription drugs. Getting a Part D plan as soon as you can, or during AEP, can protect yourself and your pocket.
Adding a Medicare Supplement
If you decide to drop your Medicare Advantage plan during AEP, and you enroll in Original Medicare, the next step would be to add a Medicare supplement plan. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover all the expenses for your medical coverage. To fill these gaps in your Medicare coverage, you need a Medicare supplement plan. Some plans, such as Plan F or Plan G, offer complete coverage for your medical expenses and are typically affordable.
Medicare usually pays for 80% of medical expenses and leaves the beneficiaries responsible for the remaining 20%. Plans such as Plan F or Plan G will cover that remaining 20% in full. That leaves you free of paying any costs out-of-pocket.
We Can Help
We can help you through the process of making the changes to your Medicare coverage. If you decide to drop your Medicare Advantage plan and you’re ready to take the next step of adding a Medicare supplement, you can get a free Medicare supplement quote online. We can also walk you through the steps of getting Part D coverage. To speak with one of our agents, give us a call. You can reach us at (800) 310-2550, and we will be more than happy to help.